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I love consumer products - in moderation - Zach Porter

I have now joined the elite ranks of those cosmopolitan trendsetters who own an iPod. It is the nature of such technological toys that once you plug them in you can't imagine a life without them. In a few years these things will be as common as the cell phone and may replace the traditional ways in which music is bought, sold, and played.

If you love organization and economy of space then iPods are the way to go. You can store an entire collection of compact discs on a device that is somewhere in between the size of a cell phone and a PDA, some 10,000 songs that will fit in the palm of your hand. Some of you who are in your late 20's like me probably have all kinds of CD's floating around from your high school days that don't quite reflect your current, more polished tastes in music. Now you don't have to hide that Poison or Tiffany CD away in a drawer. Put it on your iPod and then sell that shameful stuff to the used music store and make a few bucks in the process. If you feel a guilty pleasure urge coming on, the songs are safe and sound on the iPod.

Rival computer companies are trying to loosen Apple's grip on the MP3 player market but just keep coming up with cheap imitations. In magazine ads you can tell they are trying to replicate Apple's smooth product design and minimalist appeal but it can't be done. Consumers want and know, the "real thing." To be part of the cultural phenomenon you must have the original, the one and only iPod. Despite the brand, all MP3 players will probably be called iPods, much the way facial tissues are Kleenex and cotton swabs are Q-Tips. I've never heard anyone say "I'm going to sneeze, would you be a dear and hand me a facial tissue". The power of the product, think about it. To me it's kind of like Coke. It's not "pop", not "soda", nor "Pepsi." The stuff is called Coke. Know what I mean?

Even though I love my new iPod and enjoy being involved in the newest pop cultural phenomenon, I am a bit worried. What will come next that isn't bigger and better? As soon as you think you've got the best cell phone, camera, television, or whatever, they come up with something else, and cheaper too. Don't let products and modern technology rule your life. Try spending a day without electricity, for instance. Forget you have a cell phone for a day and just let those important voice mails pile up. Hold sway over your products, and use them to make your life easier, not more complicated. Be prepared to live without all those comforts after the next hurricane or tsunami, or whatever blows the earth might deliver to civilization next.

I also fret that the iPod could be a secret government project to dominate and control the population. Once there is one in every household they will turn on a signal which will overpower our will to do anything productive and turn us in to zombies. We will be ineffectual drones, powerless to pick up a book and progress as a society. Oh, wait; sorry, that already happened. It's called the television.

It is ironic that with all the technology we have to advance civilization, we can't take precautions against the giant waves of mother nature. Mostly it seems to be another form of entertainment and self-fulfilling convenience that if we never had, we would not miss. But at least we'll still have our iPods to listen to as the mountains crumble into the sea, right? At least we can go out in style; and with our own personalized soundtrack to the apocalypse.

Zach Porter is a photographer for the News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 or zporter@news-daily.com